Arizona

When the Smart and Safe Choice Leads to Danger: What to Do When an Uber/Lyft Driver Crosses the Line

April 22, 2021

When responsible people hire an Uber after a night out, they shouldn’t have to worry about getting home safe.  Uber, Lyft, and other on-demand ride share companies provide convenience and save lives by providing an alternative to drinking and driving. Fatal alcohol-related car accidents dropped between 10% and 11.4% after the introduction of ride-hailing services; DUIs went down as much as 9.2% in some cities.

While the intention is always to keep riders safe, Uber and other ride-share companies are often the ones putting passengers in danger.  In 2016, Uber settled a class action lawsuit alleging it mislead passengers with claims of “industry leading background checks” on all drivers.  Uber settled the suit for $28.5 million dollars acknowledging the deficiencies.  While Uber has improved their screening process, their “background checks” still don’t require fingerprints— something that is standard for many other types of employment.  Dangerous drivers simply falsify their application information and convicted felons begin putting riders at-risk.

More troubling is that riders and law enforcement consistently report high rates of crime committed by Uber drivers—ranging from theft, assault, sex-assault, to murder.  In 2019, Uber had over 3,045 sex assaults reported.  Several being reported locally in Arizona.

While these facts and figures are alarming, there are things you can do to proactively keep yourself safe.

Protect yourself

  1. Ride with others whenever possible. If you must ride alone and feel uncomfortable, call a friend before and during the ride.
  2. Your phone is an asset. Your ability to get help though text and voice calls can make a huge difference in your ability to stay safe.  Also, don’t be afraid to take photos of or record anything inappropriate. Make sure to conserve your battery.
  3. When being picked up, wait inside or in a well-lit area. Make sure to identify your driver by name, and car type by make and model. Ride share imposter drivers have been known to attack unsuspecting riders, by luring them into their cars. Properly identifying actual drivers can curb this risk.
  4. Ask the driver to end the trip early if you feel unsafe. Nobody should have to endure unsafe driving and aggressive or inappropriate behavior. If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, ask to get out. You will only be charged for the distance you have traveled, not the entire trip.
  5. Don’t hesitate to call 911. If the driver doesn’t pull over when you ask to stop the ride, or is aggressive at all, don’t be afraid to call the police.

If something happens:

  1. Get medical help immediately. Taking care of yourself is your first priority.
  2. Call the police as soon as possible. Early reporting can help assure that another attack doesn’t occur and will help preserve evidence for your case.
  3. Take notes about the incident, documenting as much as you can remember while the information is fresh.
  4. Report the incident to the ride share service to make them aware of the incident. Don’t sign anything from them without consulting an attorney.
  5. Ask for and take advantage of help. Traumatic situations can have a wide range of physical and emotional effects. There are services available.
  6. Know your rights. Just because you have been victimized, it doesn’t mean you are helpless.  An attorney can help evaluate the situation, provide advice, and let you know if you have a claim to hold the proper person accountable and to help you recover.

At Torgenson Law, our attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced in holding individuals and corporations accountable for causing harm- including assault and sexual assault.  If you have been wronged by a ride share driver and want advice on your claim, give us a call today at (602) 759-0012.